Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Daily Telegraph’

Mrs May’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 20th November, 2017

may-johnson-davis-foxYesterday it was revealed that the government is recruiting Poles and other EU migrants to help in the forthcoming registration of EU citizens resident in the UK because there aren’t enough qualified and willing British workers to do it. The whole Brexit fiasco gets more surreal by the week. Far from saving Britain money and cutting red tape, as the Leave campaign promised, exactly the opposite is proving to be the case. The bureaucracy and expensive delays that will ensue from bringing back customs controls for trade in goods from the EU are mind boggling. But meanwhile the Prime Minister, Theresa May, charges on with her red, white and blue Brexit, with all the crazed energy and delusions of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. David Davis, meanwhile, has taken on the role of the Mad Hatter, with his stupid little grin and evident lack of understanding of how the EU works or even how to negotiate. He was rumoured to be threatening to resign at the weekend (maybe because a top civil servant had vetoed his plan to requisition an RAF plane to fly him round Europe on his Brexit mission?). While that prospect is superficially appealing it is Brexit itself that needs to be done away with, not the nincompoop Ministers dealing with it. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and even the Daily Telegraph have been continuing their disgraceful and often vitriolic attacks on anti-Brexit politicians and the Courts. Remainer Tory MPs such as Anna Soubry have received death-threats and much of the traffic on twitter is poisonous. The newspapers I have just mentioned are guilty of whipping up hatred and inciting violence and should be reined in by the Press Complaints Commission or else prosecuted. What we are witnessing is not the exercise of free speech but the normalisation of hate sppech and a slide down the slippery slope to totalitarianism.

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We Don’t Need US-style Smears in Britain

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 22nd April, 2010

When Tony Blair was Prime Minister and Alastair Campbell his media advisor, British politics became familiar with US-style ‘spin’: presenting a story in such a way that made it favourable to the government. The climate of New Labour spin led to government advisor Jo Moore’s notorious email after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington declaring that ‘this would be a good day to bury bad news’. The then Conservative Party Chairman, David Davis, rightly protested at the tastelessness of that and called for an official investigation. So it is depressing that some Conservative Party advisors have borrowed another distasteful American political tactic in order to try to win the current British general election: the use of smear against opponents. We saw how the Republican party and its tame media in the US smeared Barack Obama, questioning whether he was really US-born, likening him to both Nazis and Communists, questioning his Christian faith etc. And alas we are now witnessing parts of the Conservative Press in Britain, notably the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph (which ought to know better) adopting similar methods in their smear campaign against Nick Clegg. Be in no doubt: this was a contingency plan, not a knee-jerk reaction, and some Tory party advisors have similar ‘bombshells’ up their sleeve for use during the campaign. When David Cameron appears on the second leaders’ debate tonight, he should disassociate himself from all this. We don’t want US-style smearing in Britsh politics and the media. It isn’t British and it will deeply damage the Conservative Party if the Tories are seen to be tolerating or even encouraging it.

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Floella Benjamin Revs up London LibDems

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 4th March, 2010

London Liberal Democrats rallied for success in the forthcoming general and local elections at our Spring Conference this evening. As I stated in my Chair’s remarks from the platform, we would hope to move into double figures for the number of London MPs we will have after the election, as well as gaining control of several new councils. The fight will be on two fronts, in a context in which neither of the larger parties is on a great roll, whatever David Cameron and his colleagues may claim. As Chris Huhne MP said in his opening address, the three-way TV debates are going to be crucial in determining the outcome of the parliamentary elections. Tom Brake MP emphasized how sitting LibDem MPs in London should benefit from the fact that (a) they came out smelling of roses in the MPs’ expenses affair (as testified by the Daily Telegraph, and (b) they work harder than most other London MPs (as testified by the Evening Standard). Party President (Baroness) Ros Scott said that she had found the party in good heart during her tours around the country. And in London we can celebrate having the fastest rising LibDem memership of any English region. But the star of the evening was undoubtedly Floella Benjamin, whose keynote speech revved up the delegates to go forth and win.

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Edward McMillan-Scott Takes on the Tory Party

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 15th January, 2010

The Yorkshire MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, who was expelled from the Conservative Party for opposing David Cameron’s unholy alliance with right-wing parties such as Poland’s Law and Justice Party (PiS) in the European Parliament, is mounting a High Court legal challenge to his expulsion. Mr McMillan-Scott has been excluded from the party for a period of five years — the same punishment Lord (Jeffrey) Archer got after being sent to prison for perjury — despite the fact that he has been a hard-woking Conservative MEP for 25 years. His ‘crime’ was to stand against Michal Kaminski, a leading PiS MEP, for the post of one of the European Parliament’s Vice-Presidents — and winning — thereby putting a spanner in the works of the Conservative Party’s backroom bargaining with their unsavoury continental allies. Mr Kaminski then had to be appeased by the Tories by their agreeing to his becoming the leader of the new right-wing grouping in the Parliament, the European Conservative and Reformist Group (ECR).

Edward McMillan-Scott’s line is that the Tory leadership has lost its way and that he has every right to be within the party to which he remains committed. He has accused David Cameron of having insufficient experience in dealing with European affairs and of making a serious mistake in promising to take the Conservatives out of the European Parliament’s largest political grouping — the centre-right EPP — as part of his domestic leadership campaign. In announcing his High Court action against the Conservative Party, Mr McMillan-Scott told a Daily Telegraph journalist, ‘The party seeks to prevent my candidacy in the next European election merely for taking a stand on matters of personal conscience. This raises very serious ethical, legal and poliical issues.’ It also highilghts how Cameron’s Conservatives are preapred to sacrifice their own stalwarts in their pursuit of miopic europhobia.

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Chris Huhne’s Crystal Ball

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 1st July, 2009

Chris Huhne 3Labour could be heading for its worst general election defeat since 1931, according to Eastleigh MP and Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne, who was speaking at the annual dinner of Barnet LibDems at the National Liberal Club this evening. That election took place during the worst economic crisis previous to the one we are now in. Ramsay MacDonald’s government had proved unable to agree on how to get Britain out of the Great Depression, with a result that on Tuesday (sic) 27 October, 1931, the British electorate not only threw out Labour; it reduced the party to just 52 seats in the House of Commons — fewer than the Liberal Democrats have today. The Conservatives under Stanley Baldwin won by a landslide in seats, if not exactly in voters, though this was, interestingly, the last British general election at which the winning party garnered more than 50 per cent of the votes.

Does Gordon Brown have nighmares about being MacDonald Mark II, one wonders? Or is he too thick-skinned for that? From the bags under his eyes it would appear that he isn’t getting enough sleep, poor man, whatever the reason. But of course, Gordon Brown’s big worry is that Labour MPs will have another go at trying to get him out, possibly around the autumn party conference, in the hope that any other leader would lessen the number of likely losses next year. Chris believes — as I do — that Alan Johnson is the most likely victor in such a situation (David Miliband having funked it, not once but twice). The good thing about that is that Johnson favours a half-way decent form of proportional representation. Actually leading the Labour Party to victory in 2010 might be beyond the capabilities of any man (or woman), however. But David Cameron is not convincing enough to do a Stanley Baldwin and too many of his closest colleagues have emerged really badly from the Daily Telegraph expenses exposés. So, Labour is indeed likely to slump badly at the general election — but the beneficiaries won’t just be the Tories. LibDems can expect to pick up seats from Labour, not least in the North of England and probably a few in London too.


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Questions for Cash

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 29th May, 2009

Bill Cash‘Cash for Questions’  tarnished the reputation of the last Conservative government in Britain, but this morning, it is Questions for Cash that must be putting party leader David Cameron off his cornflakes, in the latest epsiode of the seemingly endless Daily Telegraph saga of expenses abuse in the House of Commons. According to the newspaper’s newest revelations, the Stafforshire MP and arch Euro-sceptic, Bill Cash, paid his daughter £15,000 in rent for a flat, as a supposed ‘second home’, despite owning one himself nearer Parliament. Mr Cash is a wealthy man in his own right, but this didn’t stop him apparently milking the system. He says he broke no rules, and I believe him; it is abundantly clear by now that the rules, put in place during Mrs Thatcher’s reign, are a licence to top up one’s salary and — as we have seen from the whole sorry soap opera, from Derek Conway onwards — to help one’s family out at the same time.

When such things happen in Africa — admittedly often on a much larger scale — we call this corruption and nepotism. I am not suggesting that this is what Mr Cash and his colleagues — on both sides of the House — have been knowingly involved in, but increasingly that is the impression that the British public is getting. It is indeed an urgent necessity, as Nick Clegg argued in the Guardian yesterday, for MPs to get their house in order, renouncing their long summer recess, if needs be, until things are sorted out through the introduction of sweeping reforms. It is not just the reputation of individual MPs that is at stake, but the very credibility of British democracy. Like a rotting carcass, the Westminster system has exploded, scattering its putrid entrails far and wide.

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Were Cyrus and Hadrian Liberal Democrats?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 18th July, 2008

One of the highlights of the live broadcast review of the papers I was on tonight on PressTV, with host Amina Taylor and the Independent’s Amol Rajan, was a story actually from yesterday’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ about the rumpus that has blown up over the founder of the Persian Empire, Cyrus the Great (d. 529BC). A magnificent cylinder inscribed in cuneiform script, held by that amazing treasure-house, the British Museum, has been championed by the United Nations as the ‘first bill of human rights’ — over 2,000 years before Europeans got round to such things. Bunkum (or words to that effect), a learned German professor, Josef Wiesehoefer, has declared: it is nothing more than propaganda. Spin. Any illusions that Cyrus was some sort of premature Liberal Democrat should be abandoned forthwith, we are told. But as I pointed out on the programme tonight, Cyrus got quite a good write-up in the the Bible, as the liberator of Jews from Babylon and a man who believed in multiculturalism. On the other hand, to have built up one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen, he must have been a bit of a thug as well.

Curiously, this debate has coincided with the imminent opening of a remarkable exhibition at the British Museum (where else), about the (Spanish-born) Roman Emperor Hadrian. Known by schoolkids as the builder of that rather sad looking wall in the north country, Hadrian was, like Cyrus, an extraordinary empire-builder, a tactician of brilliance but also a skilled politician who knew how to put out his messages, Focus-style, in inscriptions and on coins (one delightfully trumpets his success in clearing off a large slice of public debt). Moreover, he was a lover who championed gay rights (even if he wouldn’t quite have termed things in that way), turning his deceased young male lover Antinous into a cult. The British Museum’s exhibition (which will open to the public on 24 July) is a revelation, both about the man and his legacy. So was he a first century Liberal Democrat? Let the scholars’ arguments rage.

Link: www.britishmuseum,org

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